The FBI's race against a casino bomber in 1980

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In August 1980, an extortionist planted a thousand-pound bomb in Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Casino in western Nevada. Unless the owners paid him $3 million within 24 hours, he said, the bomb would go off and destroy the casino. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the tense drama that followed and the FBI's efforts to catch the criminal behind it.

We'll also consider some dubious lawn care shortcuts and puzzle over why a man would tear up a winning ticket.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E02, "Home"

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The sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones continues, with surprising deaths and unsurprising returns from death. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords recaps all the newest developments in the world of Westeros. To cover this week's "Home," Ivan and Red are joined by Walter Hickey, chief culture writer of FiveThirtyEight, to discuss proper dragon training technique, startling lacks of chainmail, and the poor civil infrastructure of the Iron Islands.

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you enjoyed the show and want to support it, you can donate to their newly opened Patreon. Read the rest

The real story behind Indiana's celebrated attempt to legislate the value of Pi

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E01, "The Red Woman"

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The sixth season premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones aired Sunday, marking a return to all the characters and subplots we loved or dreaded. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords will recap all the newest developments in the world of Westeros. For this week's "The Red Woman," Ivan and Red are joined by guest OJ Patterson to discuss dead Jons, Brothrakis, and woke fanfiction.

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you enjoyed the show, you can support the show on their newly opened Patreon. Read the rest

Could America Ever Become a Direct Democracy?

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Today we travel to a future where America has converted to a direct democracy. Everybody votes on everything!

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In this episode we explore the U.S. states that have direct democracy systems in place today, how to apply that model to the whole country, how to even gather all those votes, and what could go so, so very wrong with this idea.

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky.

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In 1928, 199 men set out to run 3,400 miles across the United States.

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In 1928, 199 runners set out on a perilous footrace across America, from Los Angeles to Chicago and on to New York. The winner would receive $25,000 -- if anyone finished at all. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the Bunion Derby, billed as the greatest footrace the world had ever known.

We'll also learn some creepy things about spiders and puzzle over why one man needs three cars.

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Who was the legless man discovered on a Nova Scotia beach in 1863?

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In 1863 the residents of Nova Scotia discovered a legless man on the shore of St. Mary's Bay. He spoke no English and couldn't tell them who he was or where he'd come from. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell what we know about the strange man they called Jerome and the guesses that have been made about his story.

We'll also learn about explosive rats in World War II and puzzle over a computer that works better when its users sit.

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What happens when computers gain consciousness?

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Today we travel to a world we share with conscious robots.

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In this episode we talk about everything from what artificial intelligence and consciousness even mean, whether you’ll ever have a moral obligation to pay Siri, and what happens when your intelligent secretary needs a therapist.

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Do fries go with that home?

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.:

It looks like a Hopper painting plunked incongruously down on a busy commercial street in West Los Angeles — The Apple Pan, home to freshly-baked pies and what hamburger aficionado George Motz says may be the best burger in America. But the affection Angelenos have for The Apple Pan only starts with the food. It’s an oasis, a rock, a spot out of time, essentially unchanged since the day it opened in 1947. It may not be the kind of place where everybody knows your name, but if you’ve been going there for a long time, as it seems like most of its customers have, it is the kind of place where the countermen most likely know your order. Warmth, familiarity, stability in a rapidly-changing landscape… aren’t these some of the things that make a place a home?

With this episode HOME wraps up its second season. We'll be back in June with an all-new season; subscribe now and you won't miss a thing. 

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Five lateral thinking puzzles

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Here are five new lateral thinking puzzles to test your wits and stump your friends -- play along with us as we try to untangle some perplexing situations using yes-or-no questions.

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A spectacularly disaster-prone oil tanker and other curiosities

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How likely is a future without paper?

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Today we travel to a fully digital world, a world where paper is a thing of the past.

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In this episode we talk about how likely it is that we might get rid of paper (not very) and what might happen to our reading habits, memories, and environment if we do.

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In 1864, a band of Confederate soldiers raided a very surprised town in northern Vermont.

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Seemingly safe in northern New England, the residents of St. Albans, Vermont, were astonished in October 1864 when a group of Confederate soldiers appeared in their midst, terrorizing residents, robbing banks, and stealing horses. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell the story of the St. Albans raid, the northernmost land action of the Civil War.

We'll also learn about Charles Darwin's misadventures at the equator and puzzle over a groundskeeper's strange method of tending grass.

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The baffling case of the Villisca ax murders

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Early one morning in 1912, the residents of Villisca, Iowa, discovered a horrible scene: An entire family had been brutally murdered in their sleep. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll describe the gruesome crime, which has baffled investigators for a hundred years.

We'll also follow the further adventures of German sea ace Felix von Luckner and puzzle over some fickle bodyguards.

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Image: Flickr

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Comedians describe the tricky balance between the road and home

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The crowning paradox of the touring comic's life may be this: You have to leave home to make a name, but without the grounding and security of home you may not have anything to say. This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., three experienced comedians on striking the tricky balance between the road and home.

HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network. If you like what you hear, please consider leaving the show a rating and/or review at the iTunes Store. 

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Thanks to Cathy Ladman, whose one-woman show, "Does This Show Make Me Look Fat?", opens soon; Brad Upton, whose upcoming tour schedule is available here; and Jackie Kashian, who can be heard on The Dork Forest and The Jackie and Laurie Show. Read the rest

Flash Forward Reveals Hidden References

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Today’s episode is a minipod, a smattering of time travel, future travel, and news about the show.

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In this episode we hear a bunch of messages from listeners: what folks think about past futures we’ve been to, and future futures we should travel to. We also do a little bit of time travel to the past, to talk about the first season of the show and hear some of the best bits from those futures. We do some announcements, and reveal a few of the hidden references from earlier episodes. A lot of people have asked me what they should be looking for, so this should help in your search.

In episode 2, Love At First Sexbot, the names of the different sex robots are references to particular people and characters. The Hadaly is named after a mechanical woman invented by a fictional Thomas Edison in the 1886 novel, The Future Eve. She’s one of the first female robots to appear in literature. The Leopold is named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose name lives on in the term “masochism.” And here’s probably the hardest one from that episode: Margot’s Discount Closet Solutions is named after a character from a Ray Bradbury short story called “All Summer in a Day.” That one was hard, I admit. In the mosquito episode, two of the names are references to Animorphs characters, and the repeated use of the number 18 points to the book in which the Animorphs turn into mosquitos. Read the rest

Will we ever live in a world without pets?

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Today we travel to a future without pets. What would it take for us to give up our fuzzy, slithery, fishy friends? Should our pets get more rights? And if we didn’t have dogs or cats, would we domesticate something else to take their place?

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In this episode we also run through a couple of possible ways we might wind up in a pet-free world. Which, to me, sound really sad. Thankfully (spoiler alert) it’s probably never going to happen.

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky

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